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Anniversary Marks Ongoing Assault on Women’s Rights, Rule of Law

(Brussels) – Women, girls, and all pregnant people have faced extreme barriers to accessing legal abortions in the year since a Constitutional Tribunal ruling virtually banned legal abortion in Poland, 14 human rights organizations said today. Since…
Women take part in a demonstration against the Polish abortion law, in Wroclaw, Poland, on March 17, 2021.
News

Investigate, Protect Rights Defenders, End Hateful Rhetoric

Update: Poland’s Ministry of the Interior responded to Human Rights Watch’s request for information and comment on our findings in a four-page letter dated April 8, 2021. The letter states that the government adheres to international law guaranteeing…
Protesters hold a banner of Strajk Kobiet (Women's Strike) during a protest in Warsaw on March 8,  International Women's Day, organized by the Women's Strike (Strajk Kobiet) against the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party and the decision of the Constitutional Court.
News

European Commission Should Hold Government Accountable for Violating Fundamental Rights

The message was clear at this week’s European Parliament hearing on Poland’s near-ban on abortion: the European Commission should act decisively to protect the lives and rights of women and girls and stop erosion of the values on which the European…
Women's rights activists, holding posters of the Women's Strike action, protest further tightening of Poland's restrictive abortion law in front of the parliament building in Warsaw, Poland, on Tuesday, October 27, 2020.
News

As domestic violence rates soar in Europe under COVID-19 restrictions, women’s groups protest government inaction from Poland to Turkey.

As violence against women repeatedly grabs headlines during the COVID-19 pandemic, women across Europe are at the forefront of mass protests demanding government action to protect women from abuse. Some argue that women shouldn’t risk their lives…
Protesters with a banner reading "Women's Strike" take part in a rally against the Polish government’s plans to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention on prevention and combating of domestic violence, in Warsaw, Poland, July 24, 2020. © 2020 AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski
News
(Berlin) – The Polish Constitutional Tribunal’s ruling to invalidate the constitutionality of access to abortion on the ground of “severe and irreversible fetal defect or incurable illness that threatens the fetus’ life” will further harm women and…
Protestors prepare to take part in a car demonstration organized by Women's Strike against imposing further restrictions on abortion law in Poland.
News

Don’t Manipulate Pandemic to Endanger Women, Adolescents

UPDATE: On April 16, 2020, the Polish Parliament sent both the “Stop Abortion” bill and the “Stop Pedophilia” bill to committee for “further work.” This decision means neither bill has been rejected, but further consideration has been postponed…
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News

Teachers Threatened After Taking a Photograph Supporting Equality Protests

Since that day, October 3, 2016, that one simple photograph which first appeared on Facebook, has been splashed over Polish newspapers, social media, and debated far and wide. Some of the women in it have been ostracized by colleagues, seen their careers…
Ewa Wnorowska and her colleagues pose for a photograph in support of women's rights in Poland
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The Polish government is attacking women’s rights activists and organizations, putting women’s rights and safety at risk. More than two years after the first Black Protests, when thousands took to the streets to protest efforts to further restrict access…
News

Attacks by Government Put Women, Services at Risk

(Brussels) – The Polish government is targeting women’s rights activists and organizations, putting women’s rights and safety at risk, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. More than two years after the first mass protests against…
Women’s rights supporters at a demonstration for International Women’s Day in Krakow, Poland, on March 8, 2018. The center sign uses the slogan “No Woman, No Country.”
Report
  Summary On October 3, 2016, thousands of demonstrators filled streets across Poland to protest the ruling Law and Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość, PiS) party’s attempt to enact a complete abortion ban. #CzarnyProtest (Black…
News

On Black Protest Anniversary, Support for Women’s Rights Needed

On October 3, 2016, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets across Poland in defiance of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party’s attempt to enact a complete abortion ban.  #CzarnyProtest, or Black Protest, and #StrajkKobiet (…
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News
  “Evelina” (not her real name), 17, looks immaculate in her pressed white-and-blue school uniform and her neatly divided cornrows, as she futilely tries to escape the sweltering heat of western Kenya beneath a shady tree. Her black leather shoes…
“Evelina,” 17, with her 3-year-old daughter “Hope,” in Migori county, western Kenya. Evelina is in Form 2, the second year of lower secondary school.
News
On May 14, the Kenyan justice system failed women miserably. The Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Kenya, petitioned the High Court, challenging the provisions of section 7 of the Matrimonial Property Act, 2013. The section makes ownership of…
Two widows in eastern Zimbabwe, facing harassment from in-laws who are trying to force them to vacate their homes and fields. Rural Eastern Zimbabwe, October 2016.
News

Proposed Bill Continues Roll Back on Reproductive Rights

(Warsaw) – Poland’s Parliament should listen to the voices of women across Poland and reject a regressive legislative proposal that would erode reproductive rights, more than 200 human and women’s rights groups from across the globe…
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News

State-run clinics are exempt from the ban on U.S. funding going to groups that provide abortion services. But many government clinics rely on essential support from NGOs, who can no longer afford to offer it, says Skye Wheeler of Human Rights Watch.

“We will just have to forget about the women who will suffer – money is just not enough, we won’t be able to reach the community at all.” This is what a senior staff member at a large health organization in Kenya told me in July this year. Her…
News

Expanded ‘Mexico City’ Policy Causing Cuts in HIV, Reproductive Care

(Washington, DC) – Early effects of United States restrictions to global health aid include cuts to essential health services in Kenya and Uganda, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that was released today.…
A woman walks past a mural on a Family Health Options clinic in the Kibera slums in Nairobi, Kenya, May 16, 2017. © 2017 Reuters
News
James lives in a Nairobi slum and takes care of his niece. Her mother died almost 10 years ago following complications from a botched abortion. She had become pregnant in a horrific gang rape. “She told us that she saw three men rape her and…
Women look on as residents talk to police officers after an attack in Panda Nguo, Lamu County on the northern coast of Kenya July 11, 2014.
News

Government Seeks to Limit Sales of ‘Morning After’ Pill

Poland’s government is again trying to curb women’s control over their bodies. After last year’s attempt to impose a near-total ban on abortion, the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party has introduced a bill to limit sales of…
Protesters hold coathangers to illustrate the danger to women’s safety posed by an outright ban on abortion © Reuters
News

Draft Law Would Push Abortion into Back Alleys

Coat hangers strung from trees and piled up in front of government buildings by protesters serve as a grim reminder that women’s lives are at risk under Poland’s proposed new abortion law. The bill, now under review by…
Woman holds a placard as she takes part in an abortion rights campaigners' demonstration in front of the Parliament in Warsaw, Poland September 22, 2016. The placard reads: "Let's save women".